Driving “One Direction” to Music Hell!

I was 28 years old when my first child was born. I always thought of myself s a pretty “youthful”  parent when they were growing, up and hopefully my big girls will concur now that they’re 21 and 23, but who knows. They may all think I’m old and out of touch even as I try to stay current on things that matter to them. Music is a big part of all of our lives evidenced by the cacophony of sounds in our home coming from the three youngest kids who play violin, cello, trombone, saxophone, and trumpet. They all love to sing, hence music fills our house from canned sources and their creations constantly! Due to their influence and exposure, I do know and enjoy many of the current top artists, and join them in singing/harmonizing to songs that please me!

I drive my 13-yr. old daughter to school most mornings, and on that 20 minute drive, barely awake myself, I’ve given up on the control of the sound waves and let her surf the stations for the songs she likes the best. I like to please my kids, but there are definitely limits that I hit when it comes to music.

For some brief background, I need to go back to my own childhood, riding in the car with my mother. My mom, as I may have mentioned in a previous post, was a musician who not only directed instrumental groups, musical theater and various choirs since she was a teenager, but played piano and sang soprano with esteemed groups like the Tanglewood Chorus and the Boston Pop’s Chorus. She taught piano out of our home most days and directed the adult and children’s choirs at our church. She was what I’d call a “pitch snob” as well, contorting her face and discretely (sometimes not so much), plugging her ears when sounds did not resonate well with her, and, she discriminated against (translation=shut it off!) most music that wasn’t musically pleasant to her ears.

When I rode in the car with her, we mainly listened to classical music, or opera. As one of her 4 children, I rarely had the opportunity to switch the radio station and if there were even pre-set buttons in our car, I never had the opportunity to learn how to use them. The airwaves were hers and we just had to learn to deal with it! Luckily, since I was a musician as well, I could deal with it most of the time, but I NEVER learned to like opera no matter how much I heard it!

As a young child, we had a reel-to-reel tape recorder that my dad used to tape every single church service or concert that my mom was ever in. We 4 kids each had our own small tape that we could record on, which we did, ad nauseam. We recorded songs, acted out plays and musical performances on a multitude of instruments as well as every conceivable conversation or fight that we found interesting. I distinctly remember at around the age of 10, playing my Sears “light-up drum set” while singing The Partridge Family’s “I Think I love You” with my younger sister Rachael while I banged away! Music was a giant part of our lives as it is for my own kids. (This is a real picture of my drum set from the Sears Catalog of 1969!)

As a teenager, I did my best to sway her to music that was at least of the same century, and had some limited success when she took up folk guitar in the 1970’s. Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell,The Mama’s and the Papa’s, and James Taylor made the cut, but she had a distinct dislike for bands like The Who, The Doors, and Iron Butterfly (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was one of my older sister’s favorite albums!). She tolerated some of the quieter Beatles songs probably because they had good harmonies, but with most of the other music she would wrinkle up her nose in disgust.

I’m not going to generalize like my mother did and say that all pop music is crap. I like lots of musicians, like Bruno Mars, Adele, Carrie Underwood, lady GaGa, Maroon 5, Coldplay, The Black-eyed Peas, Train, Rhianna, and have been known to listen to some Eminem and other rap music. I like singable, non-offensive, and music that I can harmonize to. If it has a good message, even better. If it has no message, but a nice tune and instrumentals, that’s fine with me too.

Back to my conversation in the car with my own child and my now tortured life…it’s all about One Direction these days. I can deal with the 32 One Direction posters taped to the walls of her room (only because we still need to paint the walls a new color), and I really don’t care what she listens to on her headphones or in her room, but I-can-not-tolerate-their-music! I think the clincher for me was when I saw them perform on Saturday Night Live last season and their lack of musicality mixed with their really poor dancing made dislike turn to intolerance.

After plugging her mp3/phone into my car stereo connection, she turned on a new song I’d never heard before. I gave it an excruciating 2 miles before I just couldn’t take it any longer. I don’t know if my mother’s spirit was lurking in my car or what, but the words that came out were definitely channeled through me from her!

“I just don’t know how you can listen to that stuff? There’s no musicality to it at all! Don’t they sing about anything else besides how beautiful she is, what he wants to do to her, how he needs her, wants her, loves the flip of her hair! Why is all of the music these days about living for the moment? Like there isn’t a future or something? Isn’t there any music that you like which doesn’t rage adolescent hormones ? I didn’t have to go through this with your two older sisters-at least they had good taste in music!”

In an instant I realized that I had turned into my mother!!!

Sorry mom. Now I understand.

While I’m at it mom, thanks for tolerating my Partridge Family music playing incessantly and my loud drumming on my cheap drum set. I really appreciate that now!

And remember that tiny microphone I found in Dad’s workroom and hooked up to my violin to make it electronic? Thanks for letting me make so much noise!

Oh yeah, and in sixth grade when I was learning to play the french horn, I know it was pretty loud and obnoxious in the beginning, but thanks for sticking it out with me. I haven’t exactly found that patience yet for your granddaughter’s trombone, but I’m sure she’ll get better soon!

My bass guitar? Well, that was just cool and fun, but in all fairness, I left that at school for the most part.

Until I had my own gaggle of noisemakers, I just had no idea how excruciating it could be! And yes, I do know that when they’re gone, I’ll be complaining that it’s too quiet!

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Undecided Voters?

Halloween is over and Election day is right around the corner…five more days until we will hopefully know if it’s time to scream with joy or cry and get into bed and hunker down for the next 4 years!

I see the polls. I hear the pundits talking, but I’m sick and tired of all of this jockeying and just want it to to be decided so I/we/the country, can move on with our lives.

When I hear about the undecided voters, I can’t help but wonder if they are really paying attention. If a woman is undecided, I would have to ask if she has all of her marbles. Barack Obama is the only choice who cares about a woman’s rights!

I was surfing through my facebook feed yesterday and I came upon this video of Donna the Deer Lady.  I have to say that my curiosity was piqued by this silly headline, and as I listened, I was certain that it was someone punking the radio hosts, but I was wrong. What I heard, was a fairly intelligent woman complaining about the overuse of  “Deer Crossing” signs on busy highways and their obvious results which lead to more deer crossing in those spots due to the signs!

This woman was serious and wanted her concern to be taken seriously. “Please, can’t someone take them down so that we don’t have so many deer crossing on busy highways?”  Certainly, there are less populated places for deer to cross in small towns and at already designated crosswalks, she implied! Holy crap! Is she a shining example of  the undecided voter?

I also saw a quick clip yesterday of a four-year old girl who was crying about the election. Her mother video-taped her sobbing, saying that she was crying about  “Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney,” as she was upset about the plethora of mentions of the election. Even she is done with all of this craziness! Anyway, I had a vision that  it would have been great if someone could have showcased all of the nasty things that have been said towards Obama from the GOP campaign through the eyes of children, maybe using play dough like Saturday Night Live used to do with Mr. Bill. If kids wrote the scripts, we’d see just how clearly Mitt Romney has been lying and bullying and using millions of dollars to buy this election. Kids know when they’re being lied to and they know when things aren’t fair, and adults could use a good dose of that non sugar-coated reality!

Here’s hoping that next wednesday I’ll be able to get out of bed!

Who Owns my Uterus? Rights, Responsibilities, and the Realities of a Romney Presidency

This week, the Romney/Ryan campaign showed their true colors clearer than I’ve seen them before in this campaign. Under their leadership, the Supreme Court could change in ways that would plummet a woman’s rights back to pre-Roe v. Wade era, an embryo would have all of the rights accorded to a living being at fertilization, and it is very likely that marriage would be only defined as a right of heterosexuals, obliterating any progress that states have made in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Any woman would be crazy to vote for Mitt Romney. Any man who loves a woman or has a daughter would be voting against women to cast his vote for Mitt Romney.  Mitt Romney, the surrogate for the Tea Party’s regressive, misogynistic and racist group of haters and elitists would cause a downward spiral for woman that would be irreparable for many generations. A Romney win would ensure the appointment of 1-4 possible Supreme Court Justices who would most surely repeal Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to an abortion!

To begin with, it is unconscionable to support such ludicrous reasoning for eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood. If  women do not have access to the free services that PP offers, there is no doubt that the number of unwanted pregnancies would rise due to lack of contraception. If women do not have access to routine procedures that could prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, aid in healthy pregnancies, screen for early detection of cancer, provide for abortions, and many other services that are offered, the strain on our health care system through emergency room care would be monumental, or, women would suffer without these services altogether.

For a party that seems so concerned with the rights of the unborn child, where is the concern for those who are alive and needing assistance? Where is the outrage for the child that was not aborted, yet has a life-threatening illness but has parents with no insurance or way to pay for care? Are these Republicans really so short-sighted that their reasoning ends when the sperm meets the egg? Do these extreme Republicans really believe that if these babies could talk that they would say that a life of hunger, poverty, no resources for basic health care, and in many cases, physical, mental and verbal abuse  is worth it or preferable?

As a lesbian, my kids were not created by accident. They were planned for and invited into our lives with much forethought and hard work. While I understand that heterosexuals aren’t always that careful or strategic with the choice to have kids, I do know that many people take this responsibility very seriously and would not want to be surprised by an unwanted pregnancy.

In New York City,  53 high schools now offer female students Plan B, which is a compound that prevents ovulation or fertilization if used within 72 hours of unprotected sex. 7000 girls between the ages of 15-17 get pregnant in the NYC school system annually. Imagine, if we could prevent these unwanted pregnancies, the subsequent need for abortions, and the unnecessary birth of more unwanted children which often comes with even more societal repercussions! Seriously, abstinence programs don’t work. Kids are going to experiment or be forced into sex whether we as parents like it or not. Let’s protect our girls and give them a chance to grow up with as many advantages as the boys get to have.

As a business owner for many years, I know that I have paid up the wazoo for insurance in my former business. I had health insurance for my staff, insurance for participants who used the facility, unemployment insurance, liability insurance, and even insurance in case I forgot to pay the premiums on my insurance! It’s a protection that I never took lightly, especially liability insurance. It didn’t just stop there with my premiums though…I fixed safety issues immediately, maintained all of my equipment when there were problems, kept icy areas safe and plowed, put cones up outside wet bathroom floors, posted signs about safety issues, filed accident reports and dealt with insurance companies when there were issues. I knew my responsibilities  and acted accordingly, yet I don’t see that same thing happening with the issue on the liability when it comes to unexpected pregnancies.

It may not be my area of expertise, but I surely know that to make a baby in the “conventional” way, a man is required. Yet all of the talk of abortion and a woman’s right to choose seems to miss the most important precursor to pregnancy in the first place. Put into a perspective that I can relate to very well, I’d say that there is a liability to having intercourse in the first place, yet I hear very little talk about the male’s part in this responsibility.

Imagine a society where every sexual encounter comes with an implied legal responsibility. Why are both parties not responsible for proving and providing the same level of contraception to protect against an unwanted pregnancy. It is an impossibility for the man to get pregnant, yet it seems to be predominantly men who are writing the laws that would either take away a woman’s right to choose what she can and can’t do with her body if she gets pregnant. According to the most recent statistics in the U.S. almost half of the 6.7 million pregnancies are unintended. That’s 3.2 million! And according to these same statistics, 19% of them are unwanted. Most of them, as you can read for yourself, concern minority and low-income women. The choice to have an abortion, if you ask any woman who has had one, is personal, difficult, and wrought with much emotion, and involves factors much more complicated than a simple “it’s against GOD’s will” approach.

The  Right-Wing Conservative Tea Party has a clear inability to separate the issues of Church & State. As Paul Ryan clearly stated in the VP debate this past week, he can not separate his religion from his political views when it comes to abortion. He supports the platform that abortion should be illegal except for in cases of “rape, incest, and (lo and behold he’s put it back in to his speech…) the life of the mother.”  Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic as well as Ryan, knows that his religious views, although similar, SHOULD NOT be and WILL NOT be imposed on anyone else’s choice for what is right for their body.

So who is responsible for these unwanted children? Whose liability is it? Seems to me that it falls predominantly on the women. And why is it that the healthcare system does not cover this under the Republican Right-Wing agenda either through contraception or abortion services? Because women are not seen as having equal rights. Apparently, women do not have the ability to decide what is right for them and their bodies because men seem to know what is best?

As a mother of 4 girls, it scares the hell out of me to think that we may have a President Romney. This is not a choice that should be difficult if you are a woman and a mother. If Romney gets elected, your rights will dissolve. There is no place for religion in politics and that was settled long ago.

What will be next- eliminating the right of women to vote?

Magical Thinking

I’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming. Too much, I’m sure, and if I had some magical daydream calculator, I’d likely chastise myself for wasting so much of my life…

Lately, I’ve caught myself imagining more of a nightmare world where Republicans have the Presidency along with the majority of the House and Senate, and although “daydreaming” sounds all fluffy and cloud-like, these thoughts are dark and ominous and full of thunderclouds!

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I am a bit of a news junkie with “news” leaning almost exclusively towards national politics these last few months. I’ve watched  the Republican Convention with curiosity, disgust, and anger as they lie, and deceive the public, while rights that women have owned over their  bodies  for decades dangle precariously by a thread from the wretched hands of the rich and “powerful” men who want to take over our country.

I was watching Rachel Maddow last night discuss the abortion views of prominent Republicans and I continue to be saddened and distraught about their consistent message of not tolerating abortion. “Period,” they say, as if we need more enunciation and might stop asking them about their stance!  Some of them will allow for the “exceptions in the case of rape or incest”, and others will include “for the life of the mother,” but eventually, they just want to repeal Roe vs. Wade. If Romney gets elected, just one Supreme Court appointee may devolve us to that point when back alley abortions were the only options for women and when we’ll see many, many women die needlessly.  This is NOT a test. This is the real deal!

I know that I don’t have to spell this out to y’all, as you are likely educated, mostly women, and keep abreast of these issues yourselves, but since I have daughters and a son who haven’t ever lived through a time when women were treated with so little respect and rights over their own lives, I have had to spell it out to them.

When I was a teenager, I knew I was a lesbian. I had a girlfriend in High School for most of that time. I never dated guys, never had to deal with the idea of accidental pregnancy, or think about what I’d do if I did get pregnant. Some of my friends and relatives who did have to worry about it, were forced to make some hard decisions when they got pregnant. Luckily, they had a legal choice to get an abortion, and in most cases, a parent was not even required to be notified, but before 1973, that was not the case.

Even Mitt Romney, who has vacillated on his views over the years since he ran for Governor in MA has now stated that even though he’s voiced a support for a women’s right to choose, (vehemently, I may add), he is now against abortion, and it’s unclear  whether he would allow it in cases of rape, incest, and the “health and life of the mother. Isn’t “life” a part of “health?” So he’s now taken another stance and redefined his previous stance to say that he “mis-spoke.” What?!

Ok, here’s what I don’t get…First of all, I understand that “pro-life” means to choose life of the child over death – “death” being the state of the child/fetus as a result of abortion. I also understand that a woman who is pregnant is considered “alive,” at least that’s what they told me in my early science classes, and her heart is still beating.  So if by choosing the life of the baby over the health and life of the mother, wouldn’t that be the opposite of pro-life?  I sure I’m not the only one who sees the hypocrisy in this.

Now I know I may be getting paranoid here, but is it so outrageous to imagine that  if this absurd doctrine is ever allowed to pass, there might come a time that the Republicans will enact another clause that allows for the life of the mother over the baby if the baby is a girl, but the life of the baby over the mother if the baby is a boy? Crazy, maybe, but it sounds to me like a WAR ON WOMEN if they would even consider allowing a woman to die in order to give birth to a child in ANY circumstance!

I saw a short clip of a new documentary by Al Jazeera called “The Abortion War” in which Jim Buchy, a Representative from Ohio who has proposed the so-called “Hearbeat Bill” defining life as “beginning at the onset of a baby’s heartbeat,” was asked, “what do you think makes a woman want  an abortion?” He couldn’t answer the question and seemed stumped as he fumbled through an answer, and finally said “I’m not a woman…It’s a question  I’ve never even thought about.”   Wow! So, basically, women are only considered vessels to carry babies. We have no rights to personal liberties and men will choose what we can and can’t do with our bodies without even THINKING about how it might feel and WHY a woman would feel the need to do it?

If we imagine a law that requires these children to be born, shouldn’t  the Republicans be required to fund their upbringing, care, schooling, etc? And for all of the mothers who don’t want these children but feel obligated to keep them, do we want more babies in this world who are not loved, or well-cared for, may have to live in poverty, may suffer abuse?  Maybe these Republican dictators should really take the time to THINK about these things?!

Women have had time to think about it. It’s one of the hardest, most private and personal decisions that women do have to think about, and they should be allowed to make that decision based on who they are and what they are willing to do for this unborn child. By forcing any girl or woman to carry a baby to term is a form of enslavement and can not be tolerated.

My dream for this election, is that more and more women will come to realize what this agenda really means for them, their women friends, and their loved ones and take some action. My dream also includes many supportive, sane men in this country to stand with women and actually THINK about what this might mean for women. Seriously, women don’t get pregnant all by themselves!  This is the time for all people, especially women to energize and come together with a tornado of force that together, no closed-minded, backwards-thinking, domineering, heavy-handed, discriminatory, and sick agenda by the Republican Right-Wing Tea Partiers can reckon with!

Three Kids and the Wife in a Hotel Room with a Lone Wolf…

I’m at Cape Cod now, and have been for the last 2 days enjoying a hastily planned 3-night “beach” vacation with my wife and 3 youngest children. The trip came about after repeated protesting from the youngins’ about why we never take them with us when we go to Provincetown. So, here we are, (in S. Yarmouth, not P-Town), all camped out in a hotel room with raindrops and temps in the 70’s. It hasn’t been bad, nor chilly the whole time, but we thought we’d have a last day to spend at the beach today since we elected to hang at the hotel pool yesterday on our first full day. That was not a reality after all, so instead we proceeded to spend a fortune on mini-golf, batting cages, go-carts, and ice cream!

One thing that I have learned about myself since early in this relationship that I began more than 17 years ago, is that I need my alone time. I need time that no one is calling my name, asking anything of me, and needing me to do something for them. I need time to read things that interest me, write emails, catch up on news, exercise, write down my thoughts as they come to me, return phone calls, and be able to think about things without interruption.  The fact that I’m writing this now is an almost impossibility, and as I write, I’m listening to the news of the Denver theater massacre while my kids are huddled in the adjacent bed watching “The Suite Life on Deck,” on a laptop, and my wife is reading next to me. An air mattress for the boy is on the floor at the end of the girls’ bed narrowing that passageway, and clothes are everywhere in various drawers and bags surrounded by ice chests and beach towels.

It’s a slim half-hour break time between the pool swim and dinner. I’m lucky I even get this time, and I’m grateful for any scraps I can get. Can I survive more than three nights in a single room with four other people? I don’t know, but I’d rather not find out. Would I rather not go on vacation than do this again? No, but I desperately hope that next year, if we consider such a plan, that I finally have a job and we can afford two rooms so that all of us are more comfortable!

One of the perks of vacation is getting some reading time in. My read on this trip has been Jodi Picoults new book “Lone Wolf”. I wasn’t sure I’d like it at first since it is predominantly filled with the life of wolves interspersed with a personal family drama. I’ve learned quite a bit about the pecking order of wolves and their pack system, which in many ways has similarities among members of large families without all of the growling and non-verbal communications. Wolves have an amazing sense of smell that can detect the minutest changes in their surroundings and is vital for their survival. As I got deeper into the novel, I felt like I could identify with the different roles that wolves play in their system, yet as a parent, I think that I have to juggle these roles daily depending on the situation.

Today, I feel like a lone wolf. I’m at the end of my tolerance for doing things “together” and I need some space. I don’t mean to harp on the age thing, since it’s a running theme in my posts, but I need to just say that the parallels of getting older and being more set in my ways is a reality that I’ve come to accept. The only problem with that, is that my wife is the opposite- she likes constant company, and my company is often not pleasant if I don’t get my alone time!

I guess that I had hoped that my kids would enjoy playing with each other more like I did with my sisters when I was a kid. I don’t remember begging my parents as constantly as they beg me to play with them. Maybe my parents gave me the message early on in my childhood that we needed to find things to do with each other and we accepted that more readily than my kids do. I remember playing outside all day long on weekends and in the summer, building forts, climbing trees, playing softball, riding on our space trolley, playing in our tree house, and when it was bad weather, acting out theater productions, dances, playing cards, building card houses, playing instruments, recording tracks on our reel-to-reel tape player, and playing records on our record player until being called for dinner. I never remember feeling bored, and if I ever did hang around looking for something to do, all my mother ever had to do was find me a new ball. I don’t know if she kept a supply of them or what, but I always had to have a ball or a pair of drumsticks handy!

I know I’m not a spring chicken for a parent. I’m aware that when my youngest kids graduate from high school, I’ll be 59 years old. I don’t think, though, that that’s the issue. I’m still pretty agile and energetic, and I am always willing to get out and ride my bike with them, throw a ball around, or shoot hoops if they want, but I also want them to be able to entertain themselves. I won’t always be there to motivate them. I want them to be self-motivated like I was as a kid. My mother encouraged me to play an instrument, which I did for many years, but she didn’t have to hound me to practice it. I wanted to be good at it so I was motivated to follow-through on my lessons. No one watched the Celtics games with me when I was a kid, cheering on Larry Bird and John Havlecek to win 2 NBA championships when I was in high school. I taught myself how to play basketball by watching their moves, and practiced in my driveway every day I could, honing my shots. I guess it’s a passion that my kids seem to be missing, and I don’t know what to do about it. I believe that we can only hold our kids hands for so long before they need to either learn to fly or learn to fall gracefully.

We’re all home now, having survived the 6 hour drive, 3 hours in bumper to bumper traffic trying to get off the Cape on a  Saturday. We do know better than to leave when everyone else is leaving, but we were eager to get home.

The summer has flown by so fast, and while there’s a good number of days left of it, I find myself vacillating between wanting school to start NOW, and wanting more days to create special memories with my kids. On the one hand, their being home is driving me crazy. They have little desire to be outside when it’s sweltering heat, they get on each other’s nerves and fight a lot, and getting them to want to do anything besides watch TV and play computer games is exhausting! I don’t remember it being so hot when I was a kid, and if it was, we had a pool to cool off in. I dream of having a pool again and hope that I can make that a reality for my kids so that they will go outside again.

Soon, we’re leaving for New Hampshire, where we rent a week at a lake that was my wife’s family vacation spot as a child. We have gone there since 1999 and enjoyed many wonderful times. What was once our family vacation plus special friends, with occasional visits from her relatives, has turned into their family vacation with 3 surrounding rental houses converging on a shared beach. It’s fun, but also overwhelming for me. Luckily, I have “lone wolf” rights now that I’ve got to share my space with so many others, and my absence is tolerated when I need a break, and also it’s less than an hour from home so I can elect to spend a night recuperating with clean water showers as well if I want!

I’ll leave you with this slice of lightness from my Cape visit:

Watermelon. It’s my new favorite food. It’s sweet, and juicy, and when eaten at the perfect time of day, when you’re hot, and thirsty, and craving something sweet, it’s the most wonderful burst of nectar and juiciness that it’s heaven on earth- the most delicious experience that your taste buds could ever imagine! I just had to throw that in because I toted a whole giant watermelon all the way to the Cape with us and I’m enjoying it fully right now!

“Finding Hope”

It’s just a four-letter word – a noun, a verb and can even be a name, yet it’s so hard to find and so easy to lose.

President Obama campaigned and won on “Hope.” There are currently two TV shows with the word “Hope” in the title and at least five that have been on in my lifetime. It’s what religious leaders preach about constantly, and yet, it often seems so elusive.

Benjamin Franklin once said “He who lives upon hope will die fasting.” while Emily Dickinson wrote in a poem:

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,”

I don’t think it’s a new concept that people in the U.S. are losing Hope in the powers that be who make final decisions about our laws, control our economy, and the systems that control that power. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then you’ve been in a coma for the last 4-8 years. Jobs are scarce, people are paying more for necessities, yet making less money, working more hours, and yet they still can’t keep up. The standard of living that our parents and grandparents afforded is out of reach for most families, and the reality of that is widespread depression, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce, crime, suicide, murder, and everything in between. What makes it especially hard is that those who are suffering the most seem to be the children. In 2009, one baby was born every hour addicted to prescription drugs. Three years later, and who knows the increase in that statistic. In 2010, the highest number of citizens with food insecurity was recorded in the U.S. When you think of the starving children, they sadly, are likely found in your own community.

It isn’t hard to figure out why people lose Hope after losing their jobs, their homes, their dreams and their futures. Those who can hold onto it and resist the temptation to drown their sorrows and despair in alcohol and drugs are usually the ones who have a lot of faith, but what exactly determines where that line falls between faith and despair?

My wife’s niece died on the 4th of July at the young age of 35 years, presumably from the effects of many years of active drug abuse and depression. Her death was likely accidental, this time, but her life was governed by addiction, and although surprising, her death was not unexpected. Many people had tried multiple times to help her, but the allure of the “high” was ever-present. Another casualty. Another child is left without a mother. Another wasted life.

I worry that my children will be the last generation to know Hope. They’ve been raised as by-products of parents born in the 60’s, when Hope was still alive and the ability to enact change was still a possibility that seemed within reach of the average citizen.

How are we able to counteract the results of the Republican stranglehold on the Congress and the ability to change the system that favors the wealthy and leaves the rest of the 99% to fend for themselves?

When I ran out of thoughts a moment ago and switched back to a Words with Friends game, the word my opponent had just played was “Hope.” I don’t really believe in coincidences, so I will take that as my cue to keep writing, or ranting, as my blog implies!

What does Hope mean to me? It’s a desire for people and things to be better, for love to win out over hate, for peace to persuade war that we can all live happily without fighting. It’s the desire to move through my life with enough, for myself and my kids, my friends and my neighbors, my town, my community, my State, and my Country, and the entire World! It’s about the “haves” helping the “have-nots” and not taking away from those who have suffered enough.

As I am writing, we are leaving soon to pick up our littlest girl after a week of sleepover camp. I’m guessing that after a week apart from all of us, she will be happy to see us. I know her moms will be overjoyed to see her! Getting the other two young ones to happily get up early and make the hour plus drive is the hard part, but after hammering home the concept of  “family” and “support” and “love for your sibling,” they have reluctantly agreed to remove the sourpuss attitudes. What I’d like to somehow infuse in their psyches is that all of what we “make” them do as children will hopefully be appreciated when they’re adults. I see that “sense of family” reflected in at least one of my older girls and know that it is there, but reflects more soberly in the other. I have gratitude that all of my ducklings will be safely nestled in known locations soon, and I desperately Hope that they will all cherish the security that we provide for them until they are able to swim (or fly) on their own!

My Hopes for our children are that through their own lives and experiences, they will always know that they are loved, and that they will do their part as healthy, happy human beings to extend multitudes of Hope and love to many other people so that the flame of Hope will not be extinguished!

* Author’s note- I know that Hope isn’t capitalized, but I Hope that you don’t mind that I did it anyway!

Letting Go…

It’s almost comical how little I actually produce of value these days. It used to be, that when I was working, really working for a salary and running a business, that I got more done in a day than most people do in 3. As a parent, I remind myself daily how valuable my presence is to my children but I too-often find myself searching for value in my life around my work, as I continue to search for meaningful employment.

We all move in cycles. Once, in my 20’s, I had the world at my feet! I knew that I was in love, that I wanted to be with this person for the rest of my life, have kids together, make a home…everything was a rainbow of colors everyday. We had the house, the dogs, the two kids, were starting a business together, and then “poof,” it disappeared…

Years later, My life is great, and luckily I never did collapse from that fall, but I did change. I had to re-group, re-define, and try to understand who I was as a person when not with this other person. And, I needed to learn how to be a mom without the same family unit- the other parent who wished this child/children, into this world.

With many LGBT couples, the idea of having a child, whether biologically or not, adopting, fostering, whatever the case, it is a conscious choice. For me and my then partner, it was one that we planned for 6 years. It had much fore-thought, and it was very quickly successful both in the getting pregnant and birthing process once we fully committed. Almost 7 years into being a mom, which then included a 3 and a 6 year-old, I was not planning to be a single parent.  I had also not planned to see my kids only half of their lives! That idea, once it sunk in, broke my heart. 18 years later, and having lived through that time, I am a changed mother.

There are many events that I’ve missed and  don’t even know about, that my kids did with their other mom and her friends and family. There are boo-boos, fears, crushes,  friends, clothes, outings, and special meals I’ve missed. There are relatives I’ve never met, and artwork they’ve made that I’ve never known, pictures and videos that I’ve seen but not been there for… It makes up half of their beings.

Almost all of the friends I knew in my 30’s as young lesbian couples, either with young kids or trying to have kids, are now divorced. They see their kids 3 or 4 days a week, split weekends and holidays, and have either a harmonious relationship with their ex. or a completely rancorous one, and sometimes even the known is unpredictable. The toll that it takes on the kids is unknowable, but it can sometimes come out in behaviors towards parents or siblings, or trouble at school, poor eating habits or obsessiveness with technology, TV, or anything! As a parent, it’s crazy-making because you can never have consistency. It’s a new norm, this consistent lack of consistency, and it doesn’t lend itself to consistent parenting. For those of you who either are going through this now or have gone through this with an ex, you know what I mean.

It’s becoming the norm in our society to ask our friends, “do you have your kids this weekend?” When did that become commonplace?

Yes, well we have our kids EVERY weekend. We can’t always plan ahead, and our lives are ruled by game schedules every day, not just monday thru wed.

No, we do not have any privacy. Our now 13 year-old stays up past our bedtime. She’s entered the Twilight zone and will be there a good 8-10 more years, staying up into the wee hours and then sleeping as late as possible. One good thing that’s happened this year, is that we can now leave the 2 littles with her at home and go out for a short time at night without worrying too much. They fight but it hasn’t come to punches yet!

This week I’m feeling like a mother duck whose ducklings have all wandered off. I’m searching in my mind to pinpoint all of their locations, reassuring myself that they are fine, wherever they are. My oldest is off in a mid-western state and calls me once a week. My next, college student daughter is working at a camp in the Berkshires this summer. My middle child, is at a soccer tournament with her team minus either parent and away from home for the first time on a multi-night trip. She’s making grown-up choices and experiencing new worlds.

I thought I’d be home with my both of my 10 year-olds tonight, but after attending my nephew’s graduation and birthday party, my son jumped for joy at a chance for a few days of individual attention with her Aunty and family. Meanwhile my wife is representing us at her nephew’s wedding and staying over with a relative. Tomorrow, we leave early to take our “little, little girl,” to her first week at sleep-away camp!

So what’s this all about anyway?

It’s about reminding myself to enjoy my life while it’s happening. Back when my “first” family fell apart, I was mourning the loss of my everyday connection to my children. I eventually reconciled with it, but I was acutely aware everyday what the impact was on them as children. It shaped their lives, and it’s shaping all of my friends’ kids lives now. Early on in my present relationship, my wife and I grew to relish in our alone time when the kids were not there. It gave us an appreciation of how much a relationship needed to be nurtured and how as individuals, we needed our alone time as well. Guilt-free time, I suppose, when one knows that the kids are getting enough attention from someone else.

Now that we have three more, we see how important that time is still, and have always tried to build “date night” into our weeks, but we can also see that the time will soon be upon us when they are all grown and have moved on, only to arrive home on holidays.

Enjoy your kids. Before you know it they’ll be all grown and working it all out in therapy!

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